No Jail Time For Teen Driver Who Killed 3 Pedestrians, Including A 3-Month-Old Baby
Zoe Reardon, 18, pleaded guilty and got 36 months probation for the 2017 crash.
ATLANTA, GA — An Atlanta teen pleaded guilty in the case of the 2017 car crash that killed two women and an infant. She was sentenced to three years of probation.
The ruling came down after an emotional day in court in which the victims’ loved ones read impact statements.
On September 9, 2017, Zoe Reardon, then 17, was driving a Jeep that fatally struck 28-year-old Kaitlin Hunt; her three-month-old daughter, Riley Hunt; and their family friend 61-year-old Kathy Deming in Woodstock, Georgia.
The three victims had traveled to the state from Florida to escape the impact of Hurricane Irma.
Reardon, who turned 19 this week, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges. She was sentenced to 36 months probation and ordered to pay $4,000 in fines, which can be reduced if she donates to a charity that combats distracted driving.
In addition, Reardon must complete 240 hours of community service and safe-driver training, and her license has been suspended for the next 12 to 36 months.
As she attends Southern Methodist University, Reardon will be allowed to do her probation check-ins in Texas. If she successfully fulfills all her probation conditions, the incident will be expunged from her record.
Reardon has always maintained that it was dark out and she simply did not see the three pedestrians step out in front of her car. Forensics also determined that Reardon was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, nor was she speeding. Reardon’s defense team has maintained, as well, that this was not a case of distracted driving.
Addressing the victims’ families in court, Reardon said, “I regret this is the first time you’ve ever heard from me. I’ve often wanted to reach out. I can’t imagine how much pain you’re experiencing. For all your heartbreak and loss, I am truly sorry. I wish there was more I could have done to make it better for y’all. I sincerely hope you folks can start to find closure.”
The sentencing occurred after a long day in which emotions ran high. Family members asked the judge to issue the harshest possible sentence, which would have been 36 months in jail.
Dozens of impact statements were made, and some witnesses addressed Reardon directly. No one claimed that she intentionally hit the victims, but many expressed anger that Reardon didn’t seem remorseful and that she made no attempt to reach out to them.
John Deming, one of victim Kathy Deming’s sons, told Reardon, “A phone call would have made a world of difference.”
Kaitlin Hunt had been a member of the U.S. Coast Guard. She lived in Port St. Lucie with her husband, Brandon Hunt, who works in law enforcement. Kaitlin, Riley, and their pets had traveled to Georgia as Hurricane Irma approached Florida in 2017.
Brandon Hunt’s mother, Mary White, said in court that her son could not bear to be present at the sentencing. She added, “I remember getting the frantic call from Kaitlin’s mother, and Brandon saying, ‘I sent them there to be safe.’ Everything he ever wanted in life is gone.”
Cherokee County State Court Judge Alan Jordan granted Reardon first-offender status. As he sentenced her, he said, “You’re pretty young. You’ve got a lifetime ahead of you. I expect this is something you’re going to have a hard time dealing with the rest of your life.”
Following the proceedings, Kaitlin Hunt’s family issued a statement that read, “Our desire has always been for the woman who killed our daughter, Kaitlin Hunt; granddaughter, Riley Hunt; and dear friend Kathy Deming to be held accountable for her actions. What happened is a tragedy on multiple levels, and there is no outcome that will make our family whole again. Court actions cannot heal us — we must continue to heal ourselves.”